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Science is one of my favourite homeschool subjects to teach. While I can’t say that I love the scientific method or memorizing periodic tables, I do love to study nature with my children.

When I mention nature study to friends or family, I’m sure they picture my kids running through the brush with magnifying glasses and clipboards, but there’s so much more to it than that!

Nature study is easy to include as a curriculum and it’s inexpensive too! Here are some ways to include this method of teaching in your homeschool.

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One of the best ways to teach science is through nature study! Here are some helpful tips and resources to easily add nature studies to your homeschool!

What you need to get started

It doesn’t take much to get started with nature study. You can begin simply with a topic/item/place to explore, some paper (preferably a notebook), and pencils.

When we start a study, I try to set up a learning provocation (i.e. a bowl of shells or rocks). Sometimes a nature topic may be sparked by my children’s interest in something (like the birds at our bird feeder or some worms they found while digging in the dirt).

Set up learning displays and provocations for your child.

Investigating the topic

Once you have a topic, you can begin researching ways to investigate it with your children. The internet is full of resources to build a study around the subject you’re exploring.

Some of my favourite places to look for nature study content, information, and ideas are:

I also recommend purchasing a small book of ideas pertaining to the topic of your nature study.

My favourite source for nature study curriculum are the Nature Explorers books found on the Our Journey Westward website. These downloadable books are packed with content, activity ideas, and book recommendations. They also provide a wide variety of printable notebooking sheets.

Hands-on experiences

One of the most essential aspects of the study is the opportunity for children to have hands-on experiences. Encourage your children to use their senses to explore their nature topics.

Your studies can include field visits to various places. Here are some locations to explore:

  • your garden / backyard
  • a local park
  • river valley
  • ponds and lakes
  • forests
  • mountains
  • deserts
  • wooded trails
  • nature reserves
  • national parks
  • botanical gardens
  • greenhouses
  • observatories

Planned outings and impromptu walks are a great way to incorporate nature studies into your homeschool.

Documentation

When we learn something, it’s important that we document it. There are many ways for children to document their learning. Here are some great ways to record nature study findings:

WRITING

Some of the best nature study documentation is done by writing about observations and discoveries. A simple notebook is a great place to record all of a child’s findings.

Another way to write about nature discoveries is to use pages from NotebookingPages.com. There are plenty of nature study pages to choose from and they’re super affordable.

DRAWING / ART

Another wonderful way to document learning is through drawing and art. Children can sketch their findings in a notebook or you could provide them with online art lessons to simultaneously hone their art skills. I especially love the chalk pastel lessons from Nana at You ARE an Artist.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Allow children to take photos of the objects they’re investigating. They can be responsible for labeling and placing their photos in albums too.

Nature study resources and tools

There are some other awesome resources and tools that are fabulous additions to your nature study repertoire. Here are some additional items to consider:

  • magnifying glasses
  • small clipboards with paper (we have pencils attached to our clipboards)
  • a microscope
  • basket or bags to carry “samples” (i.e. rocks, leaves, twigs, flowers).

There are also some fabulous books to use in your nature explorations:

Reflect

It’s so much fun to teach science through nature studies and it’s really easy to do too! With a few simple tools and some great resources, you’ll be on your way to unlimited exploration and discovery!

Do you participate in nature studies with your children? What do you enjoy about nature study?

Jennifer Bly
Jennifer Bly
Author of My Kitchen, My Classroom: An Introduction to Homeschool, creator of Deliberate Homeschooling, The Deliberate Mom and regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Jennifer writes about her homeschooling journey and life with her husband and two girls. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration Degree with a specialization in Early Learning in Child Care.
 
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